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Feature

Ranji Trophy: Yashasvi Jaiswal and the art of just hanging on

On a tough pitch, and having been given a few lives, Mumbai batter sets aside his natural instinct to play the long innings his team needed

Yashasvi Jaiswal celebrates his century with partner Hardik Tamore, Mumbai vs Uttar Pradesh, Ranji Trophy 2021-22 semi-final, 1st day, Bengaluru, June 14, 2022

Yashavi Jaiswal celebrates his century with partner Hardik Tamore  •  Special Arrangement

"Don't play any shot after getting dropped."
Sometimes, all you need is for someone to tell you what you already know, to refocus on the bigger picture. This is what happened with Yashasvi Jaiswal on Tuesday. A simple message from Mumbai coach Amol Muzumdar helped the opener make the most of the lives he was given on the first day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final when he scored his second straight first-class hundred and propelled his team from 24 for 2 to 260 for 5.
"Initially, it was difficult, the ball was moving, and they [Uttar Pradesh] were bowling well," Jaiswal told ESPNcricinfo after the day's play. "I needed to respect them, and I just needed to get them tired and play that session when they are bowling well. The whole day, the ball was moving. I had to focus well to leave the balls. I was just trying to build partnerships. It was good. I enjoyed it."
Playing his third first-class match ever, and second of the season, Jaiswal took Mumbai out of the woods and fell immediately after scoring 100 off 226 balls. But by the time he departed, the score had gone past 200. A late push from Hardik Tamore (unbeaten 51) and Sarfaraz Khan's quickfire 40 also lifted the team to a respectable total after early jitters.
Tight bowling from Uttar Pradesh saw Mumbai post just 58 for 2 in the first session. They lost Prithvi Shaw to the third ball of the innings from Yash Dayal, when he went for an ambitious drive and was caught at point. Soon, No. 3 Armaan Jaffer perished while playing across the line with minimal movement. He was trapped lbw.
Uttar Pradesh, despite starting well on a green Just Cricket Academy pitch, couldn't apply pressure when the sun came out. This was evident with Mumbai adding 92 runs in the next 27 overs after lunch.
Apart from the rare rush of blood and a few slices of luck, Jaiswal's calm head and whirring bat were the highlights of the day which kept Mumbai on course for a competitive total. In a team of Prithvi Shaws and Sarfaraz Khans, he showcased the other side of batting, the art of hanging on and surviving difficult periods. The youngest in the Mumbai camp, he batted for a total of 353 minutes.
The innings wasn't without its flaws. Just after lunch, Jaiswal got a reprieve at 33 in Ankit Rajpoot's second over of the session, when he nicked a ball that was pitched on a fourth-stump line and was caught by the wicketkeeper, or that's how it looked, initially. The UP players kept belting their appeals but the umpire was unmoved. Replays eventually suggested that Jurel hadn't gathered the ball cleanly. By then, Suved Parkar (32) and Jaiswal had begun the rebuilding act.
He was dropped again, at 37, when he went for an uppish shot and Rinku Singh at gully couldn't hold on.
"I got a really nice message from Amol sir at that moment," Jaiswal said. "'For the next 15 mins, I want you to play no shots and if you want, you can take a single and get off strike.' He said there are two options. 'Don't play any shot after getting dropped. Just keep playing. The second is, be at the non-striker's end for 10-15 mins. Just see through this period'. Because he [Rajpoot] was bowling really well at that moment. I did that and got out of that situation. It was really nice of him to send me that message, and then I applied it and we were in the game."
After the battle with Rajpoot, Jaiswal changed his approach a bit. He took fewer risks. He began playing down the ground more. He hit just two fours in the next hour. He was biding his time. Then, after getting to his fifty, which took 150 balls, he signalled a shift in Mumbai's intent by rattling off three quick boundaries.
Jaiswal continued to target the gaps with eye-catching drives and back foot punches. Overall, he hit 15 boundaries. He also shared three crucial fifty-plus partnerships with Parkar, Sarfaraz and Tamore during the course of his stay.
"Focus on what you can control" can be a cliched line coming from a player, but, on Muzumdar's advice, that's just what Jaiswal did, and as a result Mumbai came out on top.

Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo